Was the Chihuahua with the hairless paws premature?

"Doc, you did the Caesarian section a day or two earlier," Ms Jenny Cheng said when I visited her breeding kennel to check on the sole Chihuahua puppy operated by me.  "The Chihuahua does not have hair on its paws!"

A sparse hair coat, especially on top of the paws in a neonate is a sign of premature delivery. 

Did I operate too early? Ms Cheng wanted the Caesarian on day 59 after the first breeding at 3 p.m.  Her bitch had a below 37 degrees Celsius rectal temperature.  If she waited till past midnight, her Chihuahua might not be able to deliver naturally and she would still need an emergency Caesarian section.  The veterinary charges could be as much as $1,000 depending on which veterinary practice she went to.

The market price for an average 3-month-old Chihuahua puppy was $1,000. Therefore, the $800-Caesarian section fees could wipe out any profit to be made from the sale and the 3-months of maintenance of this puppy. Caesarian section fees varied from $200 - $1,000 in different veterinary practices in Singapore.

Economics dictate the timing of the Caesarian section for the professional breeder who must make money to remain in business. If the breeder did not undertake a Caesarian section, all or many of the puppies might have died inside the uterus.

Ms Cheng had used the temperature drop as a guide to puppy birth. A drop of 1-2 degrees from the average 38.5 degrees in an adult dog is an indication that the bitch will give birth 12 - 24 hours' later.  The rectal temperature of imminent birth will be around 37.2 degrees and can be lower at 36.8 degrees.

When Ms Cheng came in the afternoon, I examined the bitch and advised: "There are no other signs like restlessness, making a nest or labour contractions. Milk is not present in the nipples."

Ms Cheng replied: "The bitch's rectal temperature was 36.5 degrees Celsius this morning. Now, you noted a temperature of 38 degrees.  She had a previous Caesarian as she could not deliver by vaginal birth."

Should I proceed as requested so that the breeder will not lose the puppy through dystocia (difficulty in birth)? 

The bitch delivers the puppy from 59 - 63 days after the first breeding. This Chihuahua was within the accepted range. So, should I do a C-section as requested or not?

If I postponed the surgery, the puppy might be stillborn past midnight and all the efforts and money spent during pregnancy of two months would be for nothing. Well, that was not my problem. Still, Ms Cheng needed to be viable in her breeding business. 

I could not ignore her economic need to sustain the profitability of her business in this SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) era of worsening economic climate in Singapore.  Every live puppy counted as not every puppy would survive to 3 months of age for sale.   

I was worried about premature puppies delivered by a 59th-day planned Caesarian section. They would need intensive care and might not survive. That would not be good for the puppies or for Ms Cheng.

In veterinary practice, many hectic-paced Singaporean dog owners go to another veterinarian if the service requested cannot be granted immediately. Some perceive that the first vet may be incompetent. The customer is always right. 

In this situation, what should I do?

I postponed the Caesarian section by 24 hours as I kept the Chihuahua un
For sale - Chihuahua puppy with a tuxedo coat. Singapore. der observation in the surgery.  Somebody would need to stay awake past midnight to observe her.  She might deliver past 3 o'clock in the morning and most people just can't keep awake at that time.

On the second day, there was a small amount of gelatinous lumps in the vaginal discharge.  Should I wait another day? The rectal temperature was a guide only.

One puppy was delivered. It breathed immediately when I rubbed the back of its neck. That was a sign of a vigorous puppy. I remembered this puppy very well as it had luminous bright pink paws and cried non-stop during my 20-minute-drive from my surgery to the breeder at Pasir Ris. Most puppies do not cry so long.

Ms Cheng would have other nursing bitches if the Chihuahua bitch had no milk. The puppy was healthy.  The pink hind paws had no hairs on the top part. This was what Ms Cheng judged when declaring that the puppy had a premature Caesarian section.

The puppy could suckle immediately. The hairs on the hind paws took a long time to grow. It had very fine hair growing at eight days old and looked to be a trim tuxedo puppy with a white bow tie.  It developed into a slim chihuahua and had a very good home.   


1. By 4 months of age, male dogs may mount the owner or show interest in the sexually receptive female.  However, males usually can't successfully breed till they are over 9 months old.

2. Female dogs experience their first bleeding at about 6 months of age (the first breeding cycle).  The cycle is usually twice a year but may be more than two or less. The Basenji cycle once a year.

3.  Large breeds of both sexes may take 18 - 24 months to become sexually mature.

4.  A healthy bitch will be able to produce puppies all her life but reproductive problems occur generally after 8 years of age.

5.   The canine "heat" has 4 stages.
5.1 Proestrus. Around 9 days. Swelling of vulva and a dark, bloody red vaginal discharge.
5.2 Estrus. Around 7 - 9 days. Ovulation. Eggs must mature in the female for 72 hours before they can be fertilised by the sperm.  Vaginal discharge now a faint pink colour and the bitch is sexually receptive.
5.3 Diestrus. Around 58 days. 
5.4 Anestrus. 4.5 months.

6. Gestation (Conception to birth period of time).  Average is 63 - 65 days.  Puppies may also be born between day 56 - 72.

7.  Pregnany diagnosis by the vet. Day 27 is preferred.

8.  Dog's abdomen swelling usually at the day 35 or 42. Large dogs that carry puppies high beneath their rib cage may not look pregnant. 

9.  Nipples swell and darken  to rosy pink at day 40. 

10.  Rectal temperature drop to 99 degrees F, 8 -12 hours before the onset of labour.

11.  The lst stage of labour  6 - 24 hours.  Restless, pant, shiver, vomit, pace, scratch floor, vomit.
12.  The 2nd stage - birth of puppy.
13.  The 3rd stage - explusion of the placenta. Usually passed out 5-15 minutes of each puppy birth.

14.  If there is more than 1 puppy, 2nd and 3rd stages alternate.

15.  Vaginal discharge shows imminent birth. Then involuntary muscle contractions. If the first puppy is not born within an hour of these strong contractions, take the bitch to the veterinary surgeon.

16.  See your vet if labour does NOT resume within 4 hours after the birth of the puppy or the bitch is restless, feverish, ignores her puppy or has a foul-smelling vaginal discharge.    

17.  Breeds like the Chihuahua (small pelvis), Pekingese, Bulldog (big head), Boston Terrier, Toy Poodle may require Caesarean deliveries if you wish to have healthy live puppies.

2003's Interesting Caesarean cases
Born at 56th day pregnancy - Chihuahua puppies, Singapore Maltese newborn. 2 normal, 1 deformed, 1 stillborn
Jul 16 03. Would the 56th day Chihuahua puppies be hair-less? Jul 28 03. The Maltese stillborn was enveloped by its stools
Singapore-born, Chihuahua puppies for sale at week 8
Singapore-born, Chihuahua puppies for sale at week 8
Chihuahua puppies.  Eyes open at day 10 - 12.
Chihuahua puppies
Singapore-born, Maltese puppies for sale at week 8
Singapore Shetland puppy for sale in Oct 13 2003
Shetland puppy

Shih Tzu puppies
Shetland bitch 14 months old with greenish yellow water bag
Aug 7 03. Shih Tzu mother has a waterbag! Aug 14 03. The Sheltie has a greenish-yellow water bag

2004's Interesting Caesarean cases

Copyright Asiahomes Internet, 2004. All rights reserved. Revised: March 07, 2004   
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